Got hit by some pretty serious Clinton Blame Cannons today

It seems that my friends, my friends’ friends, and I are exclusively to blame for the Trump Presidency and the Republican takeover of government. I tried to stand up for you all, without tearing the person down.

This article was re-published by Naked Capitalism. Screenshots of the conversation are at the bottom. 


First the post proper, which I made on Facebook, regarding a Republican town hall Citizens’ Media TV was to cover:

Me:

I am a journalist interested in debunking the Republican talking point of not wanting to participate in in person town halls, for fear of facing “outside agitators being bussed in only to harass them.”

If anyone out there is interested in livestreaming this event, and willing to go early and film the likely-non-existent buses bringing in people, and asking around, especially to those who are upset with the congressman/Republicans/Congress overall, to confirm their identity/That they live in the district, such as by looking privately at their licenses, or asking a question only locals would know how to answer (or any other creative ideas), please get in contact with me.

John Doe’s comment on the post:

I’m going and I live here.

My response:

Please friend and PM me if you are interested in assisting.

John Doe:

I visited your page, saw your posts and your friends’ comments, and with thanks for your vote for the Democratic nominee in the election, I will decline. I worked hard for her election and have no more tolerance for the kind of bull I saw on your posts. I’m sure some of those people are crying and marching now. With their support, this didn’t have to happen. [redacted] on your post was so sure of herself, and probably still is. Makes me ill.

Me:

I don’t understand what posts you object to. On what page? My personal page? I am unsure what you mean by “with their support this didn’t have to happen”? What didn’t have to happen? The Trump presidency and the Republican takeover of Congress? Who is [redacted]?

John Doe:

on a post on your wall. Someone among your friends named [redacted], full of conspiracy theories that you permit to be aired on your wall, saying that Clinton was going to be be president and nothing would stop her, she “stole” the nomination, blah blah blah. And yes, the Trump presidency didn’t have to happen. Your post is full of people saying they either wouldn’t vote, or vote for Stein for gods sake. You posted that a vote for Stein isn’t wasted. It is people who said such things that made his electoral college win possible. You all bought the right-wing Russian-financed propaganda. Now you cry and march.

Me:

Would appreciate a link to the post you’re referring to. It’s hard to discuss this without knowing what you’re talking about.

I disagree with lots of my friends, and disagree with even more people that are friends of my friends. The [redacted] you are talking about is likely a friend of a friend. Unless they are blatantly hateful, I choose not to delete comments just because I might disagree with them. Because many people that I disagree with still have something valid to say.

Thank you for acknowledging my vote for Hillary Clinton in the general. I will be honest and say that I did it almost exclusively as an anti-Trump vote.

You are correct. If every single Bernie Sanders supporter came out and voted for Hillary Clinton during the general, she likely would’ve won by a landslide. The Democrats would not have lost state houses across the country and control of all branches of our government. Instead of winning by a landslide, she lost by a razor thin margin, even winning the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.

I hope that we can agree that the American people are by and large reasonable people. So if that’s true, then what about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party caused all of these people to not vote for her? That many people choose not to vote at all, some chose to vote third-party, and probably some chose to vote for Trump just to “blowed shit up real good.”

It seems that all of these people chose to risk a Trump presidency and a Republican domination of the entire country, than to come out and vote for Hillary Clinton.

I hope you’re not seriously suggesting that the only reason that Hillary Clinton lost is 100% caused by “right wing Russian-financed propaganda,” and 0% because of what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party has done and not done for the past 40 years.

John Doe:

one word: misogyny. And I am not at all persuaded that the American people are by and large “reasonable.” Quite apparently not. https://www.facebook.com/jeffyepstein/posts/10207140649099932

Me:

Thank you for the link.

There were seventeen friends tagged in that post. Comments came from more than a hundred people [actually closer to forty], about half indirect friends of those people.

So a large percentage (most? all?) of Bernie Sanders tens of millions of supporters, that didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, either hate women (including the women…) or are so gullible to be duped by Russian financed right wing propaganda. They have no valid issues at all.

The Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton have NO responsibility in their loss. Those votes were rightly hers.

That’s what you’re trying to tell me.

Me, four hours later:

Let me be more direct: *IS* that what you’re trying to tell me?

It is so easy to blame tens of millions of middle and lower income Americans for the spectacular losses suffered by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in November. From what you’ve told me so far, they are the ONLY ones to blame. Tens of millions of people. All virulent misogynists, dim-witted enough to be completely duped by “Russian financed right wing propaganda”, and “by and large”, “quite apparently” not reasonable human beings. They have no valid concerns at all. How easily you write them off with such hateful and simplistic accusations.

The powerful few though, with their billionaire donors and much of the media and rules tilted in their favor, they share absolutely none of the responsibility in their OWN losses.

It’s not Hillary Clinton’s job to earn the votes of those tens of millions of people. It is the job of those tens of millions of people to just vote for her. Because as bad as they may feel she and the Democratic Party are for their own good, Trump is so much worse…and they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about anyway.

You do realize how unreasonable that sounds, right?

 




Second major Associated Press story sabotages popular progressive candidate soon before election day.

Both based on anonymous Democratic insiders, both authored by Lisa Lerer.

This post is an in-depth study of Lerer’s work during the 2016 Democratic primary. A remembrance of how badly the corporate, so-called left-wing media treated Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

I discuss this entire article in this video:

(This post has been re-published by John Laurits and Naked Capitalism.)

Updated 2017-02-16: Based on feedback at Naked Capitalism, I’ve changed all instances of “left wing” and “left leaning” to “corporate”.

AP Article: DNC Chairperson: Establishment Tom Perez versus progressive Keith Ellison

On February 1, the Associated Press published an article announcing former Vice President Joe Biden’s endorsement of DNC Chair candidate, Tom Perez. Buried in paragraph nine of the article, 24 days before the election, is a declaration that establishment favorite Perez has an unassailable lead:

Perez, who was quietly urged by the White House to jump into the race, faces his stiffest competition from Ellison.

Democratic strategists with knowledge of the chairman selection process say Perez has as much as a 66-member lead among the 447 members of the party who will vote on the next chairman at the party convention in late February. In total, 304 members have indicated who they’re backing.

The strategists spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the vote counting.

I was made aware of this story by The Young Turks newest correspondent, Nomiki Konst, who is covering the DNC chair candidate forums. Konst reports that no AP reporter has been present at any of the forums. (This is her analysis of the AP article.)

As Konst suggests, there are currently 14 candidates, each with their own group of supporters. As candidates drop out, their supporters will shift to different candidates. Calling the race at this moment is premature, which is a charitable interpretation, given that the only sources are “anonymous Democratic strategists.”

Perez, former Labor Secretary under the Obama administration, entered the race on December 15, and has raised 73% of his donations from small contributions. In a video shown on the Jimmy Dore Show, Perez is solidly in support of big donations to the DNC, no matter how veiled his statements are (“You don’t go to a knife fight with a spoon.”). Despite a vision speaking of unification, progressive values, and grassroots, Perez can claim no strong progressive endorsements. As described by Glenn Greenwald:

It’s not hard to see why the Obama and Clinton circles want him to run the party instead of Ellison. He’s acceptable to big donors. He has proven himself loyal to the party establishment’s agenda. He is a reliable party operative. And, most importantly of all, he will change nothing of substance: ensuring that the same policies, rhetoric, and factions that have prevailed continue to do so, all while protecting the power base of the same people who have run the party into the ground.

According to Konst, Perez is also the only candidate who refuses to talk with TYT, and she and her network are the target of rumors being spread by Perez’s campaign. Update 2/11: Konst got an eight minute interview with Perez on the final day of the DNC forums, where he confirms everything stated by Greenwald above.

The most prominent progressive candidate, Minnesota Representative Keith Ellison, entered the race on November 15, raising 98% of his donations from small contributions. Distinguishing himself from Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, Ellison is the only candidate who can claim both prominent establishment and progressive endorsements, including progressive leaders Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and establishment stalwarts Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and John Lewis.

As elaborated in the Baltimore Sun’s endorsement:

Keith Ellison, a Democratic Congressman from Minnesota and front runner in the DNC chair race, has impressive credentials. He is an avowed progressive, championing worker rights, a minimum wage increase, Wall Street reform, immigration reform, and LGBT rights during his decade in Congress. He knows the issues of rural and working class communities who feel left behind by politicians in D.C., and will work to serve them. And as the first Muslim ever elected to Congress, Mr. Ellison has a personal understanding of the effect of today’s attacks on minorities.

Ellison has, however, made moves disappointing to some progressives. He endorsed a decidedly establishment congressional candidate in Florida over the progressive alternative, and as potential chair, would not rule out big money donations to the DNC, stating that he would put the decision to a vote…likely resulting in big money donations.

AP article: Democratic nominee for president: Establishment Hillary Clinton versus progressive Bernie Sanders

After hearing the Perez-Ellison story, I was immediately reminded of a similar Associated Press story about Clinton and Sanders from June 6, 2016. Like the above article, this one, written by four co-authors, unequivocally states:

Striding into history, Hillary Clinton will become the first woman to top the presidential ticket of a major U.S. political party, capturing commitments Monday from the number of delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination….

[Clinton became] the presumptive Democratic nominee on Monday with a decisive weekend victory in Puerto Rico and a burst of last-minute support from superdelegates. Those are party officials and officeholders, many of them eager to wrap up the primary amid preference polls showing her in a tightening race with presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Clinton has 1,812 pledged delegates won in primaries and caucuses. She also has the support of 571 superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP surveyed all 714 superdelegates repeatedly in the past seven months, and only 95 remain publicly uncommitted…. While superdelegates can change their minds, those counted in Clinton’s tally have unequivocally told the AP they will support her at the party’s summer convention.

Once again, anonymous Democratic insiders “eager to wrap up the primary” decided the election was over, and the Associated Press obediently trumpeted it as truth. This time, only twenty four hours before six states, having a population of more than 50 million people, including two of the largest (California and New Jersey) were to vote in the Democratic primary, the AP said that finally, once and for all, Hillary Clinton is truly inevitable.

(Interestingly, according to Zero Hedge, the original wording of the final quoted sentence was, “While superdelegates will not formally cast their votes for Clinton until the party’s July convention in Philadelphia, all those counted in her tally have unequivocally told the AP they will do so.”)

The AP is just doing their job. They’re just reporting the news. Right? They’re not blatantly corrupt. But it sure does seem like they’re allowing themselves to be used by those who are.

Downplaying the announcement and its potential effect on voters, Clinton said,

“According to the news, we are on the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment. But we still have work to do, don’t we? We have six elections tomorrow and we’re going to fight hard for every single vote, especially right here in California.”

Where did this “burst of last-minute support from superdelegates” come from? According to Benchmark Poltics, CNN’s John King reported that the Clinton campaign had around forty superdelegates ready and waiting to declare their support, but were urged by the campaign to hold off.

In the email sent out to supporters bragging about this announcement, this image was displayed:

The file name of this image file is secret-win-V2-060416c_02.png, implying it was created two days before the article was published. It will likely never be known if the Clinton campaign conspired with the Associated Press, but at the very least, it is a spit in the eye of every Sanders supporter.

Within hours, this one story exploded into hundreds around the globe (because, according to the Associated Press, “More than half of the world’s population sees our articles every day.”). Despite California’s record breaking 2.3 million new voter registrations, 1.4 million fewer people voted in comparison to 2012 levels.

Similar to the difference between Perez and Ellison, Clinton received around 19% of her contributions from small donations, compared to Bernie Sanders’ 70%. Importantly, these figures completely disregard money from super PACs and the unethical-but-technically-legal money funneled through state Democratic Party coffers, both of which Bernie Sanders refused to take advantage of.

As summarized by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept:

This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization — incredibly — conceals. The decisive edifice of superdelegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes. But for a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter.

That the Democratic Party nominating process is declared to be over in such an uninspiring, secretive, and elite-driven manner is perfectly symbolic of what the party, and its likely nominee, actually is.

(Here is further analysis of the AP Clinton article by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks.)

Lisa Lerer, journalist for the Associated Press

While I knew both stories were published by the Associated Press, it was Jane Sanders who alerted me that both were written by the same author, Lisa Lerer.

Like many corporate journalists, Lerer’s writing during the 2016 Democratic primaries is consistently suspect. Direct statements by often-anonymous Democratic insiders are uncritically presented as truth; Hillary Clinton is unrealistically lifted up and both Bernie Sanders and his supporters are unfairly criticized and minimized; reports of Clinton’s primary victories at first impression seem balanced, but in actuality entirely ignore the difficulties faced by voters and the existence of confusing, questionable, unethical, and blatantly illegal practices, let alone the influence those practices may have had on the outcome.

(Coincidentally or not, according to Wikileaks, Lisa Lerer was one of many prominent mainstream media journalists to attend a private, off-the-record dinner at John Podesta’s house, soon before Clinton announced her candidacy. Breitbart elaborates.)

All articles that follow are written or co-authored by Lisa Lerer. “The author” means Lerer. “The authors” means Lerer and one or more co-authors.

Omission: Pretending primary wins by Clinton were exclusively because of her strengths. Pretending that voting was smooth and timely for all voters.

February 2, 2016: Clinton wins Iowa, campaigns turn to New Hampshire

Clinton defeated Sanders by less than three-tenths of 1 percent, the closest in Iowa Democratic caucus history, the state party said. Sanders said his campaign was still reviewing the results and did not concede….

Democrats spent much of the day wrestling over the Iowa results. Sanders’ campaign declared victory even in defeat…

Setting aside the title that gives no indication of how close the race was, hidden in these vague suggestions of unresolved results are serious discrepancies, any one of which could have influenced the historically thin margin of a quarter percentage point. According to the Des Moines Register,

There have been widespread questions in Iowa and nationally about the accuracy of the counts reported on caucus night, which saw the second-highest number of participants and the closest result in Democrats’ caucus history.

Even with the updated numbers, it remains unclear which candidate won the popular vote. Party officials, following tradition, declined to release the raw vote numbers.

Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire told The Des Moines Register the day after last week’s caucuses that no review would be conducted, and that Clinton’s narrow victory over Sanders was final.

Several discrepancies were reported in Hillary Clinton’s favor.

It also doesn’t help the optics that the state party chairwoman drove around for years in a car with “HRC2016” license plates.

Coin tosses decided the winner in at least a dozen precincts, and the Register declared,

What happened Monday night at the Democratic caucuses was a debacle, period. [T]he refusal [of the Iowa Democratic Party] to undergo scrutiny or allow for an appeal reeks of autocracy….

[T]oo many questions have been raised. Too many accounts have arisen of inconsistent counts, untrained and overwhelmed volunteers, confused voters, cramped precinct locations, a lack of voter registration forms and other problems. Too many of us, including members of the Register editorial board who were observing caucuses, saw opportunities for error amid Monday night’s chaos.

February 20, 2016: Clinton turns back Sanders challenge with Nevada victory

In an article that looks once again more towards upcoming primaries than at what happened in Nevada, the authors give no hints of the difficulties faced by caucus-goers. They do say this:

The 57,000-member Culinary Workers Union didn’t endorse in the election, but it circulated literature ensuring its members knew where and when to caucus and had staff ensure they were able to get to their sites Saturday.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called casino bosses to ensure that workers would get paid time off to caucus. He also reached out to the union to try to encourage the group to push their members to caucus, even without a formal endorsement, according to aides.

Harry Reid’s “encouraging” phone call to the head of Nevada’s most powerful union contributed to Clinton overwhelmingly winning all six of the state casino caucuses, a significant factor in winning the state.

The Democratic Party was scrambling for volunteers only ten days out, increasing the chances for chaos, and despite turnout being a third less than it was in 2008, chaos was indeed a reality, as if turnout were record shattering.

There was no anticipation for the large turnout, nor was there sufficient equipment to register people in a timely manner. We had five laptop computers for hundreds of people and were short staffed. As a result, the caucus meeting started an hour late.

As a precinct captain, I was given minimal training through a photocopied information guide. I wasn’t given a copy of the detailed procedures until the week leading up to the caucus, and there was no one present at the caucus to answer questions that might arise, except for other volunteers who weren’t sure of procedures themselves. When the first vote was taken after the initial instructions were given and letters were read, many wanted to leave. Some had been already been there for nearly four hours.

There were an enormous number of illegal, inappropriate, and confusing occurrences reported by Nevada caucus-goers on sites such as Reddit, US Uncut, The Reno Gazzette, and Attn.

June 6, 2016: Hillary Clinton wins Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary

From the article:

Hillary Clinton overwhelmed Bernie Sanders in Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential primary on Sunday, putting her within striking distance of capturing her party’s nomination… Clinton is now less than 30 delegates short of the 2,383 needed to win the nomination, according to an Associated Press count.

Beyond the purposefully misleading count including superdelegates, this short article leaves out any hint of the incredible hardships endured by Puerto Rico voters.

There were 2,300 polling stations in 2008. In May of 2016, the number of stations was scheduled to be 1,500. On primary day, June 5, the actual number was 440. Funding for administering the elections was halved from 2012 levels, polls were open only for seven hours, and voters had to go to two different locations to vote in the national and local elections. While all or most poll workers for Clinton were properly certified, many for Sanders were not. Finally, an inmates’ rights group reportedly threatened prisoners to vote for Hillary Clinton or they would be killed.

On primary day, only 90,000 ballots were cast, despite, as reported by Metro PR,

…in principle, about 700,000 voters were expected to participate in the Democratic primary on the island. However, following the reduction of schools and colleges, the new Projection is around 300 thousand.

There were 92% fewer voters than expected “in principle” and 70% fewer than the updated projection.

Minimizing Sanders and his supporters

March 26, 2016: Sanders wins 3 states; Clinton retains big delegate lead

Bernie Sanders scored three wins in Western caucus contests, giving a powerful psychological boost to his supporters but doing little to move him closer to securing the Democratic nomination.

[The] results in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii barely dented Hillary Clinton’s significant delegate lead…

Clinton anticipated the losses: She barely campaigned in the three states, making just one day of stops in Washington state, and was spending the Easter weekend with her family.

This was one of the more successful days of his campaign, where Sanders won all three states, gaining 104 pledged delegates; doubling Clinton’s 53. The author minimizes these wins to nothing, suggesting Sanders won only because Clinton let him, and that the victories were fruitless.

June 3, 2016: Sanders’ campaign adventure takes him from Hamilton to Rome

(Co-authored by Catherine Lucey)

He’s lagging in delegates and votes, but Bernie Sanders is still on one excellent campaign adventure.

In the past few months the Vermont senator and his wife, Jane, have traveled to Rome to attend a conference and met Pope Francis, toured Mount Rushmore and rallied supporters in sunny Puerto Rico. He’s scored seats for the Broadway musical sensation “Hamilton” and hobnobbed with celebrities at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Earlier this week, he dropped in on the final game of the NBA’s Western Conference finals….

Of course, Sanders is far from the first candidate to enjoy the perks of the trail [but f]ew candidates have taken as many side excursions as Sanders. In part that’s because they fear looking like they’re focused on activities other than winning voters….

Some of the activities do not seem like standard fare for a Vermont senator known for his workaholic ways. In his decades in Congress, Sanders has rarely attended the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a star-studded annual Washington affair. This year, he was seated at a front-row table with his wife, where he mingled with Morgan Freeman and Aretha Franklin….

To date, former Secretary of State Clinton has spent considerably less time on this kind of entertainment or travel. She has not made a foreign trip since starting her campaign. Presumptive Republican front-runner Donald Trump has not done as many side activities, though he has used his campaign to promote his products, including a Trump hotel under construction in Washington and a newly renovated golf course in Scotland, which he will visit later this month….

Clinton backers say they don’t begrudge Sanders his fun. “Great, he wants to have his YOLO moments, go ahead,” said Democratic strategist Mary Ann Marsh, using the acronym for the expression “you only live once.”

Clinton, Marsh added, “actually is trying to be president of the United States.”

Sanders, an unusually earnest and genuine politician, is painted as someone only on the campaign trail “for the perks.” His choosing to travel 40 hours to Italy for a five minute meeting with the pope, days before the critical New York primary, was not a spiritual journey, but just “a perk.”

It is strongly suggested that the only adult in the room, the only one actually “trying to be president” (despite spending Easter vacation with her family, instead of campaigning in those three states) is Hillary Clinton.

This is the work of an “unbiased journalist.” This is the story that the Associated Press decides to call “The Big Story.”

Outright hit piece

May 19, 2016: Trump more than happy to agree Sanders is getting a raw deal

(Co-authored by Jonathan Lemire)

Sanders’ path to the nomination has narrowed to the nearly impossible and campaign donations have plummeted.

But that reality hasn’t swayed Sanders, whose heavy emphasis on party functionaries and arcane political rules is a notable change for a candidate who’s long focused on curbing income inequality, regulating Wall Street and eradicating the influence of corporate money in politics.

Sanders and Trump have both seen themselves as victims of a system stacked against them by the establishment [and while Trump is over it because he’s now winning] Sanders and his supporters are simmering, if not boiling over, with that grievance now.

“I’ve been receiving phone calls from all over the U.S. — profane, sexist, they threatened my life, they’ve threatened my family,” said Nevada Democratic Party chairwoman Roberta Lange. “I feel threatened everywhere I go.”

In Nevada [at the Nevada Democratic State Convention], chair throwing, shouted profanities and even death threats to party leaders marked a meeting of the state party on Saturday. Sanders supporters accused Lange of stacking the rules against them. But those rules were approved by the state party’s full board weeks ago, party officials said.

Setting aside Nevada for a moment, this article portrays Bernie Sanders as someone who has abandoned his principles in a desperate attempt to grasp onto “arcane political rules” to do whatever it takes to beat Hillary Clinton. This is the exact opposite of the previous article, where it’s suggested that he’s not trying to win at all.

In Nevada, despite the best efforts of John Ralston, a chair was lifted and immediately put down. None were thrown. Death threats were indeed delivered to Roberta Lange by at least some Bernie Sanders supporters (as reported by Rolling Stone and Jezebel), but there is no proof that any attendees of the convention perpetrated these threats. Even granting that there were thousands of threats, Lange’s suggestion that the Sanders campaign incited them, let alone the nonexistent violence at the convention, is a tendentious stretch.

According to multiple first person accounts (here, here, here, here) and unedited videos of the event (Heavy, Reddit, Adryenn Ashley, the latter listed under “Nevada Democratic Convention livestream”), there was no violence and every voice vote went questionably against Sanders supporters. Rules that were indeed approved weeks before the convention we’re not voted on until the convention, a full half hour before the scheduled start time, when unsurprisingly, Clinton supporters were all seated. Finally, the results of the convention itself were affected by the 64 Bernie Sanders delegates whose credentials were challenged (compared to the 8 challenged Clinton delegates), resulting in a Clinton margin of victory of 30.

(To address one more important point not brought up in the article: The “vandalism” charge at the protest the following day, was sidewalk chalk, written on both the sidewalk and the side of the Nevada Democrats building. According to Nevada state law, this is considered “graffiti,” not vandalism. This and many other articles leave out the detail of sidewalk chalk, allowing the reader to assume that a stronger form of destruction and criminality was committed by Sanders supporters.)

Of Bernie Sanders’ tens of millions of supporters, an extremely small percentage threatened Roberta Lange (potentially criminal), wrote grafitti with sidewalk chalk (barely if at all criminal), and arguably acted inappropriately such as by shouting and cursing (not criminal). Conversely, in order to win at any cost, a large percentage, if not all, of the Nevada State Democratic Party leaders who support Hillary Clinton preemptively used their positions of power to take advantage of and abuse the entirety of the Nevada Bernie Sanders delegation for twelve straight hours.

Citizens’ Media TV

The Nevada State Democratic Convention is the reason Citizens’ Media TV exists. Adryenn Ashley and I met because I was watching her live broadcasts that day, that she and other state delegates were filming at the convention. Adryenn has a large following on Facebook and Twitter, and she shared her own (and everyone else’s) livestreams to millions of people. She is a major reason that the rumors of violence and vandalism of that day did not take hold as strongly as they could have. She filmed the chair being lifted (it occurs at around 4min:30secs). It is her footage that John Ralston tried to twist into violence. Not only did she broadcast that day, she continued reporting on the event, using the raw footage as evidence to tell the truth.

After witnessing how powerfully Adryenn used social media, I contacted her to see if we could take what she did that day to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Myself and a handful of other correspondents both in (Bernie Sanders delegates) and out (supporters and protestors) of the convention hall did the reporting with Facebook Live-streams, and she, in her home in Nevada, personally assisted all of the correspondents, and used her reach to show the world what really happened, from our points of view. Not the narrative. Our coverage reached 1.4 million people.

Excusing and apologizing for Clinton’s health and odd behavior

The author has twice notably excused and apologized for Clinton’s behavior and health. First, after a remarkably odd encounter in a coffee shop, where Clinton, in the midst of answering softball questions by Lerer and other reporters, jerked her head suddenly and repeatedly for a few seconds. Lerer, who was caught on camera as taken by surprise, explained the encounter as “an innocuous exchange.”

Perhaps eager to avoid answering or maybe just taken aback by our volume, Clinton responded with an exaggerated motion, shaking her head vigorously for a few seconds…. Where I saw evasiveness, they see seizures.

Pretending that Clinton’s behavior was not, at the very least, really strange, is strange. This is what you expect from campaigns, not journalists.

Second, referring to Clinton’s stumbling into a van after a September 11 event, the authors write:

At least part of the blame goes to a simple cause: Clinton’s stubborn unwillingness to follow the advice of doctors, family and friends.

“This is just who she is. She is a workhorse. No matter who tells her, her husband can tell her. It doesn’t matter. Chelsea can tell her,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat who served as chairman of her 2008 presidential campaign. “You’re not going to change her at this point in her life.”

After her Friday pneumonia diagnosis, Clinton was determined to “power through,” she told CNN late Monday.

Becoming almost amusingly self-aware, it continues,

Her supporters now are trying to turn the episode into a badge of honor — and a credential for the White House.

“This is a woman who works 20 hours a day and comes into contact with tens of thousands of people and you pick up germs and viruses and things like that and you get exhausted,” said Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut. “If you don’t get a cold or a virus or the flu or pneumonia in a campaign, you weren’t working hard enough.”

In other words, Hillary Clinton’s only fault is that she just cares too much.

(Is there something wrong with Hillary Clinton’s health, that she could not handle being the president? Probably not. I have no idea. And neither does she.)

Conclusion

The day after Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump, the authors described the loss as “stunning,” further confirming how out of touch they and the Democratic Party are, or pretend to be, about the sentiments of the electorate.

Many corporate journalists behave more like public relations, crisis management, and hit-piece writers than impartial journalists. Their true employers seem to be the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. which really means that they’re true bosses are the donors. Certainly not the Associated Press, an organization that describes itself as “the definitive source for news.”

That journalists like this are employed by supposedly reputable news organizations, demonstrates how compromised they have become and how far astray the public has been led. While there is plenty of real journalism done by these individuals and their employers, it is fatally undermined by the Democratic stenography and apologism that is consistently featured as the top story of the day, which in turn is treated as incontrovertible fact.

With each passing day, these “news” organizations seem less and less interested in furthering the art of journalism, and instead are slowly and permanently transforming into unthinking tools for their powerful, nearly omnipotent owners, whose only goal is to crush dissent and win at any cost.

With thanks to Ben Szioli for the editorial guidance.

A former Democratic mayor on the election that returned him to politics after 20 years.

Below is only a part of our conversation. There is much more to hear in the full audio. Note that the sound gets a bit rough at 6:30 when a large group of teenagers surround us at the restaurant. We head to Mark’s office, and the audio gets much better at around 8:30.

Mark Fury is a criminal defense attorney and the former mayor of Plainfield, New Jersey, serving for a single term during the latter half of the 1990s. After losing his reelection, Mark left politics for 20 years. The drama and urgency of this election is what brought him back. We met at the November monthly meeting for Our Revolution: South Jersey.

Mark voted for Hillary Clinton during the democratic primaries, “because I know her friends” and, “having been the victim of the Democratic Party myself, I didn’t think [Bernie Sanders] could win,” adding that the “Democratic Party is sometimes hard on newcomers.”

[Hillary] is a flawed candidate, but [Trump] is a walking disaster.” He is “clearly unqualified, clearly unprepared, two faced, inconsistent, outright lies, and has fairly dangerous policies–if he believes what he says.

I never thought much of Hillary, but at least I know who her friends are… As a human being, I would pick Bernie over Hillary. The choice that I made was strictly based on the political likelihoods. That’s why I sit here with the degree of outrage [I have] because maybe I should have looked at it differently… [Things] were wired to defeat [Bernie]. They cheated him. There’s no doubt about that… In the five months of posts in conversations [that I have had on Facebook], I don’t think I’ve said ten words positive about Hillary. It’s just too much of a battle… She was a really hard candidate to advocate for. Her negatives were huge…

Turning to Trump:

I have trouble convincing [A friend who supports Trump] person that the world is not flat… Half the conversation [is spent] debunking plainly false things… It is extremely difficult to win an argument on reason when the people you’re talking to are unfamiliar with reason.

Before this election, Mark speculated that around 25% of the electorate was this way. Now he worries it is much higher.

What do I do with the person who doesn’t believe evolution is a real science? What do I do with the person who doesn’t believe global warming is a real problem? … They’re unreasonable… I’m coming up on 60 years old… I don’t have the same time or patience for what is patently false… That is not a reasonable person. That’s not somebody you can talk with…

Over the past 25 years, the number of people who have turned their minds off to the progressive agenda has grown. That’s the issue I’m troubled by. And right now, those people are being appealed to buy [some] very dark forces. I don’t think Donald Trump has a master plan to wipe Jews or blacks or gays or anybody else out of America…but unfortunately he has surrounded himself with people [who might].

Yet here we are, at the beginning of at least four years where a significant amount of the population–not to mention the president himself–that has these beliefs, has a much larger voice. So what do we do? Does Mark worry, as an African-American, that he will be especially affected by a Trump presidency?

Me as an American will be affected. The only way my African-American status plays in, is on the daily, face-to-face interactions with human beings. I’ve been negotiating that field my entire life. The day after the election, the week after the election, when I would go in my normal haunts and I would see white Anglo-Saxon males, they greeted me the same way they did before the election. Maybe a little bit more generously. Almost like they were saying, “Well, I know you can tell that I voted for Trump, but I’m not a racist.” I’m like, yeah, we’re cool. We can still sit down and have a beer, right? The race issue isn’t going to get any worse. The civil liberties, social justice, educational policies, urban policies, economic policies. That’s the stuff that’s going to get worse.

Donald Trump is the P.T. Barnum of his time. He is the best salesman of his generation. He had 14 years to practice how to talk to the American population on television. And for that 14 years he sold himself as the ultimate executive… and now he is taking that show to the White House… this is not a man who wants to be president. It’s a step down in lifestyle for him. What does he get out of it? Except to grind the news of those folks so he doesn’t think gave him his proper respect. We have an annoyed bully in the White House.

Three progressives discuss surviving and thriving in the world of Trump

A conversation with Kitty Snyder and John Laurits, on how progressives can survive and thrive in a Trump administration. In particular, how can we express ourselves through protests and actions, without alienating or being blatantly disrespectful to Trump supporters? Can we join forces in any way?

(Apologies for the last few seconds getting cut off.)

Kitty was a super-volunteer for Bernie Sanders in Philadelphia, who I met at a debate watch party for the second debate in the Democratic primaries (a few days after “datagate“). Kitty was, for me, the visual symbol of the campaign and the Democratic National Convention, where we both were delegates for Bernie Sanders. Kitty is also an editor for the Thompson Timeline, which is an academic study and documentation of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. She is also an administrator for their excellent Facebook group, and is the author of the article that partially inspired this conversation.

John is the “math blogger” and journalist that kept hope alive for Bernie supporters for a few months in the second half the campaign. John was at the DNC as a protester across the street in FDR Park, and we had a three-part interview where we thoroughly discussed our experiences. John is also an organizer of Occupy inauguration, which is been endorsed by many progressive organizations including Jill Stein, and is the first major demonstration to be conducted directly among Trump supporters. You can support John on his Patreon website.

We discuss the following and more:

– How the Democratic Party lost this election for themselves, but is desperately trying to blame anyone and everything, such as sexism, racism, Jill Stein voters, James Comey, and calling Bernie Sanders this election’s Ralph Nader spoiler. And how the media is also significantly responsible, and continues to discourage conversation and solidarity.

– Do we need to change our priorities, now that there is so much more to be protested? Do we give Trump supporters any input in prioritizing this list? For example, stopping the Dakota access pipeline is currently one of our most important causes, but once Trump takes office, he has openly stated that he will allow fossil fuel companies to do whatever they like. Do we continue the fight, despite knowing that this one will likely be lost? Do we document for years of suffering at the hands of this loss (not to mention the ongoing brutality against water protectors)?

– There is clearly overlap between progressives and Trump supporters, in that “the system is broken.” Can we get creative in working together? For example, Kitty brings up the intriguing idea of ending the war on drugs, which in turn would ease the problem of immigration, since transporting drugs illegally between Mexico and the United States would be dramatically reduced.

The most important thing progressives can do is reach out to Trump supporters with an open mind. If we start from the point of view that it is our job to educate Trump supporters on how they are misguided, then there is no hope for us. Some (and we believe few) of Trump’s supporters are blatant racists. Some of his supporters may very well do things that directly hurt those we care about. And none of this diminishes the fact that they deserve our respect. Kitty: “If you want this country to be less racist than you need to spend some time figuring out why people become racist.” We may view the world in different ways, but we all have the same core needs: providing for our families, staying safe, giving a good education to our kids, taking care of our loved ones when they are sick.

We must get off of our computers, stop watching television, get out of the house, and start talking to people that disagree with us. Get involved with their groups. Invite them to become involved in ours. Let’s help each other survive. Even if we do this kind of outreach perfectly, the next four years will still likely be extremely difficult for all sides.

All of my work for Bernie Sanders has been in vain. And it’s okay.

At the end of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where I was a pledged delegate for Bernie Sanders, I realized that everything I had done for the campaign was in vain. Not just at the convention, but the entire past ten months of my life. Five of them volunteering full-time in a campaign office, not to mention the $6,000 I spent on donations, travel, and supplies.

Not one thing I did helped Bernie Sanders get the nomination, because there was no way the Democratic Party was ever going to let him have it. I believe he knew this, which is why he kept saying (to paraphrase):

This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It has never been about Bernie Sanders. This is about a political revolution, when millions of people stand up and get involved in the political process. This campaign is about taking back our government, making it into one that works for all people, and not just the rich (wealthy campaign contributors).

This is not to say that he didn’t fight for the nomination. He did. We all did. And if it were a fair fight, he may very well have won. But for so many reasons, it was not a fair fight.

Although he didn’t win, Bernie Sanders gave us something invaluable: A thorough education on the depth of corruption in American politics, and an exciting visualization of what our government can and should be. It’s exactly why his stump speeches were so repetitive. To teach us.

Bernie Sanders also exposed the myth that we’ve all grown up with, that politics is somehow this complicated and opaque process only for the privileged, as complete nonsense. Being a politician is simple:

  • Tell the truth,
  • Learn the truth, and
  • Avoid anyone who tells you otherwise.

But most of all, beyond education, Bernie Sanders revealed to each of us a hidden community of millions, who desperately want these things. People who care about truth more than (pretend) unity. About (actual) happiness more than money or power. Millions of people who have been marginalized, minimized, and bullied. Told what they feel is not important, what they believe is not important, what they want is not important, what they are is not important.

Bernie Sanders, the father we wish we had and the person we wish to become, taught us that what we want “is not a radical idea,” it’s what should be.

I have met such beautiful people during this campaign. People whose lives were permanently changed because of it. One who kicked a powerful addiction. Another who says they now “feel valid and un-alone.” And a third who tells me:

Before going to Philly [to the DNC as a Bernie delegate], I hadn’t felt confident and strong in a long time. Maybe since the last time there was a Clinton in office, ironically! I was kind of amazed that [other delegates and our supporters protesting across the street at FDR Park] would want to hear what I had to say about anything… Any successes I’ve had in my life have always been taken away or co-opted. Philly was new to me because I was experiencing the opposite. I had a sense of importance and value to Bernie and all of his team… I belong with him on this journey. I finally found my people and there are SO many of us! It gives me real hope. We’re going to be alright.

(And, saying this publicly for the first time, I was able to wean off of anxiety medication that I had been taking for a decade.)

We are square pegs who have been spending much of our lives trying to mash and contort ourselves into the round holes that everyone says we’re supposed to fit into. But for the first time, we realize it’s time to start building some square holes to fit around us.

Our idealism and “gorgeous unhappiness” matters to a lot of people. This campaign is about embracing and celebrating the truths and messy emotions that we share, and standing together to make this terrible government into the one that we all–all of us–deserve.

Bernie Sanders may not be president, but what he gave us is something infinitely more important. Actually, he returned something that was taken from us many years ago.

Our futures.

It pains me to say it, but I’m voting for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

There is a significant chance that the nomination was stolen from Bernie Sanders and from us, and if so, then Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party deserve to be punished for it. I also think the best chance we have to take back our government is to elect Hillary Clinton, so we can avoid Donald Trump and continue the fight.

I don’t think she is going to be a good president. I expect she will continue selling much of her power to the highest bidder, and not do much at all about climate change or many other issues vital to progressives. But it will not be as bad as a Trump presidency: legitimized hate, fantastically bad Supreme Court justices, and a snake oil salesman in the White House.

One important caveat is if she allows the Trans-Pacific Partnership to pass, because that would bring consequences far worse than a Trump presidency (and dramatically lessen the impact of bad Supreme Court nominees), and these consequences will linger for decades. Regardless of her words, there is a distinct possibility she may let this terrible so-called trade deal pass. She never said “I will do everything in my power to kill this bill.” What she said was the very weasely-worded, “As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it”.

This is not the time for a protest vote, in terms of a presidential campaign. I ran as a third-party candidate. I’m the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress. I know more about third-party politics than anyone else in the Congress. And if people want to run as third-party candidates, God bless them! Run for Congress. Run for governor. Run for state legislature. When we’re talking about president of the United States, in my own personal view, this is not time for a protest vote. This is time to elect Hillary Clinton and then work after the election to mobilize millions of people to make sure she can be the most progressive president she can be.

— Bernie Sanders, from a Facebook post on 9/17/2016

I disagree that voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson is a protest vote. If you vote third party in order to punish Hillary Clinton or the Democratic Party–or don’t vote, or write in Bernie Sanders, who is no longer a candidate–then yes, I disagree with you. If you honestly think a third-party candidate would be the best president for the country, then you are voting your conscience and I support you.

(See my article on Bernie or Bust.)

I must admit: I do believe voting third party does make it more likely that Trump will become president. However, if he indeed becomes president, this is the fault of no one except Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Beyond being “not as bad as Trump,” and the couple of concessions Bernie Sanders pushed her for (the healthcare public option and college affordability), they have not done much of anything to earn our vote.

It pains me to say it, but I’m voting for Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

Update 9/23: This article sparked a lot of discussion











Nuisance: Becoming a delegate and surrogate candidate for Bernie Sanders: Impossible deadlines, incredible strangers, critical mistakes, and intimidation and sabotage.

I applied to be a pledged delegate for Bernie Sanders on the New Jersey Democratic website. A few months later the Bernie Sanders campaign contacted me by email and said that I am among the pool of applicants that they will be choosing delegates from. I was told to go to a mandatory meeting at the campaign office in Sayerville, New Jersey. At that meeting I was given an envelope filled with petitions both to become a delegate, and for Bernie Sanders himself to get onto the ballot.

I didn’t realize until later that, at this point, no one is selected “as a delegate”, rather they are selected to be a delegate candidate. After the New Jersey primary, among the pool of all candidates–and depending on the number of votes Bernie Sanders received in each delegate district–the campaign chose their delegates. I was a super-volunteer for the campaign, so I was placed higher on the list. New Jersey delegates in each “delegate district” are called a “slate”, which simply means a group of people. In my district they were five delegates and one alternate on our slate.

Legislative districts are different than delegate districts are different then congressional districts. As I understand it, delegate districts are direct subsets of legislative districts, but congressional districts are only very roughly the same; there is significant overlap between them. This is almost purposefully confusing, as is much in our democracy.

My delegate slate had about three weeks to collect signatures, and if I remember the numbers correctly, there were 100 signatures required for Bernie Sanders (4,000 for the entire state), and 100 signatures for our delegate slate. We collected well over 1,000 signatures for both, and–at least this was true the week before the signatures were handed in–I collected more than any other delegate candidate in the state of New Jersey, which was over a hundred people.

(The state of New York required 5,000 signatures in order for Bernie Sanders to get onto the primary about ballot. They handed in 85,000. This trend was true around the country; The number of signatures handed in in many states was an order of magnitude greater than required.)

We held many events during these three weeks, each posted on both Facebook and on berniesanders.com; at restaurants, grocery stores, and coffee shops. Some venues were more friendly than others. I posted this on Facebook:

Collecting signatures for Bernie Sanders at Wegman’s in Cherry Hill. Kicked out by hostile yet calm spoken manager Carl Curtiss, for solicitation and trespassing on private property. We didn’t approach anyone, and about 30 minutes previous, we removed all sinage immediately, as requested.

His reason is that there is an announcement of the event on map.berniesanders.com, which he discovered, printed, and showed us. Mr. Curtiss threatened to call police before having a chance to gather our things. I also spent $29 on food.

It is private property so they can do what they like [is that true?], but they are selective with how they enforce their policy. There was a bible study at another table when we started, and I understand there are meetings there often.

Thank goodness Kai was there. A voice of reason, having political experience with this kind of resistance.

(If I knew what I know now, I would have ripped out my phone and interviewed him about it live. It’s still unclear what the laws are.)

The signatures were due on Monday, but the campaign wanted them handed in on the Wednesday before hand, March 29. I drove them over to my fellow delegate candidate, Kristin’s house, and she actually handed them in for me in the Sayreville campaign office. She sent me this picture as confirmation:

She said “The birdie has landed.” See the bird? Left to right: Atticus Garden, David Zachary, and Kevin Keefe.

Becoming a surrogate, and impossible deadlines.

As I arrived home from giving the completed petitions to Kristin, as I pulled into the parking spot in front of my house, I got a phone call from the Bernie Sanders campaign, asking if I wanted to run for office, as a “surrogate” with Bernie Sanders on the ballot.

Um. Yes.

This would be in addition to running as a delegate, so I would be on the ballot twice. I now had to collect signatures to get myself on the ballot, with the same deadline: Monday, April 3, at 4 PM sharp. Four-and-a-half days.

After learning about the surrogacy and getting my head around the reality of spending the next few months of my life running a campaign–whatever that means–I created a three hour event on Thursday, and a six hour event on Friday. Friday’s event was at The Jughandle Inn in Cinnaminson New Jersey, five minutes from my house, right near my boys’ elementary school. They were (I was!) collecting signatures for Bernie Sanders at the same restaurant the week before.

Sabotage part one

They kicked me out within 30 minutes. The complaint was that I was soliciting to their customers. I wasn’t. I wasn’t walking around the restaurant asking for people to sign my petition. I was only there for those who chose to approach me, because they already knew about my event. I did initially have a sign up at my table, so people walking in would know who I was, but took it down at the suggestion of soliciting.

So I went to Starbucks in Morristown. Starbucks had been friendly with us, leaving us alone because they were getting some business out of it. Someone went into the restaurant (I was sitting outside) and complained to the manager that she was insulted by my presence. I never saw the person. So I was kicked out of there as well. This was incredibly stressful, and also misled those who RSVPed to my original event.

I went to a third place, and after nine total hours of events over two days, I reached a total of 24 signatures. I needed 300 by the end of the weekend. (Honestly, I “needed” 100, but as I understood it, they’re aggressive with disqualifying signatures, not to mention people say that they are Democrats but are improperly registered, or whatever it is, so it is unwise to go in with anything near the actually required amount.)

Update after speaking with an employee of the Burlington County Clerk’s office.

On September 9, 2016, I interviewed an employee of the Burlington County Clerk’s office. According to this person, I ended up with 193 signatures considered valid. More than I thought I handed in. It turns out that no one decided to challenge our petition, so no signatures were disqualified (“They were taken at face value”). The only thing the clerk’s office itself checks for, is that signatures are not missing information, such as leaving the town name blank, and that there are no duplicate signatures. Basically, since I had so many more than required, they didn’t even bother.

Incredible friends and strangers, and a critical mistake by the Bernie Sanders campaign

It turned out to be one of the craziest weekends of my life, and there is no way that I could’ve done it without the assistance of many friends and strangers, let alone those who traveled all around the largest geographic county in the state, just to sign a piece of paper.

Someone I never met before called me on Saturday afternoon, and collected signatures on my behalf for 12 straight hours on Sunday. Two friends I met on my trip to South Carolina, Jessica and Cody, knocked on doors in my hometown for hours, with the support of the campaign, who gave us access to a “walk list” of Democrats in the area, using NGP-VAN’s MiniVAN phone app (the same one we used in South Carolina).

Diane, a regular at my weekly phonebanking parties, organized multiple petition signing events for me. Craig, a professional photographer and videographer, followed me around for weeks, taking pictures and making videos of me, for use as however I saw fit. His picture is the one that made it into the paper. Barry Brendel from John Wisniewski’s staff was there throughout my entire campaign, with terse, blunt, and perfect support and guidance. And, finally, my new campaign partner and running mate, Mike Miller (who found out about his candidacy a couple weeks before I did), called on his friends and in some favors to help push me over the edge.

On Monday afternoon, a few hours before the deadline, Mike and I met and handed in our petitions together. I reached a total of 180 signatures, and it ended up being enough. I honestly would have been only mildly surprised to not reach the official threshold of 100 “valid” signatures.

One of only forty in the country

One of the coolest benefits of this experience, was that, along with Mike, I was one of only around 40 candidates in the country to be personally endorsed by Bernie Sanders. Did he think I was the best person for the job? No. Did he know my name? I doubt it. But I was chosen from among the pool of super-volunteers, and it is a bragging right I will take to my grave.

Due to the unique requirements of the state of New Jersey, in order to earn decent spot on the ballot, it is required that presidential and local candidates run together. These endorsements are what are needed for the local and presidential candidates to be “in the same bracket”, meaning column, on the ballot.

I received my endorsement letter in a manila envelope on Sunday afternoon, from a campaign volunteer, at a Dunkin Donuts two miles from my house. We spent no more than three minutes together. He got my signature to endorse Bernie Sanders,

gave me the envelope containing my endorsement, went to the restroom, and left. Before starting my car, I took a picture of the letter and posted it on Facebook.

When I arrived home and showed the letter to my wife, she noticed that my position was listed as freeholder, but I was running for surrogate. It was required to hand this endorsement letter in with my petition, and a mistake like this would likely cost both my candidacy and Bernie Sanders’ slot on the ballot. So a corrected letter needed to be written up and signed by Bernie Sanders (who I believe was campaigning in Colorado), and it needed to be delivered to the Burlington County Board of Elections by 4 PM sharp the next day. I called the campaign and was told it would be taken care of. I trusted that it was, but couldn’t truly know until later.

Four days later, Friday, April 7: Intimidation disguised as concern

On Friday that same week, I received a phone call from a young member of my county’s Democratic Committee. She said that there was a Committee meeting that same night, and they wanted to know if I was seriously campaigning–if I was really trying to win this position. Although she personally likes Bernie Sanders and a Bernie-supporting congressional candidate by the name of Jim Keady, the committee itself has endorsed Hillary Clinton and congressional candidate Fred LaVergne. She proceeded to tell me–repeatedly–just how much of a Bernie supporter she is, and that she also personally supports (and “just like”s) the county’s current Surrogate candidate, Sander Friedman.

She warned me that if I did actually try to run a real campaign, if I really did try to win, “It would be very bad”. The Democratic Party “would have to spend money to campaign against [me], and it’s money that would be better served for use against the Republican in the general.” They also “would have to send people” to explicitly vote against me (and my partner Mike), in order to boost their own candidates. The point being that these “anti-Jeff” voters would hurt both Jim Keady and Bernie Sanders chances at the nomination. Because, “oh, well if we’re already here, we might as well also vote against Bernie and Keady.”

She expressed frustration and exasperation at the Sanders campaign, how the “situation was not properly explained” to me, and that no Berniecrat “in entire state of New Jersey” is actually trying to win. The campaign “really should have made it clear” that my only purpose is to give Bernie a decent spot on the ballot.

She ended by saying that she would be happy to try and help me get some other local position in the future.

This person was trying their hardest to come across as a kind and concerned person that just wanted to make me aware of the situation. I suspect it’s not completely true, but that is how I treated her and responded to her: with respect and thanks for helping me understand. My overall response was, “This is the first I’m hearing about it [which was true], and it’s a lot to think about. I need some time to get my mind around it all”.

Four days after that, Monday, April 11: Sabotage

On Monday, I received a letter in a Federal Express envelope:

It was written the day after the intimidating phone call.

Despite repeated phone calls and emails, we were never told of the details of this challenge, what we needed to do in order to respond, or even where or when the hearing was to take place.

The only thing we could glean from the letter was that it implied that the endorsement letter was somehow invalid, or perhaps never even reached the Board of Elections in time? Barry confirmed that same afternoon that a corrected endorsement letter, signed this time by Jeff Weaver, was indeed received in time.

Notification of the decision came two days later, in another Federal Express envelope:

Included in that letter was a copy of my endorsement of Bernie Sanders (as signed a Dunkin’ Donuts) and a copy of the corrected endorsement letter of me:

Update after speaking with Burlington County Clerk’s office

According to the employee, no hearing was necessary. The Clerk’s Office consulted their lawyers in the county Solicitor’s Office (the clerks themselves are not lawyers), and immediately issued their decision.

I submitted an OPRA (Open Public Records Act, New Jersey’s version of FOIA) on September 9, 2016, for the challenge itself, and will post it here if and when I receive it.

Update 9/20


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The same day: An intimidating statement by New Jersey Bernie Sanders superdelegate John Wisniewski

From the article Bracketing 101: Why Freeholder Candidates are Important to Bernie Sanders (the same article as linked above, explaining the uniqueness of the ballot in New Jersey):

According to [NJ Assemblyman and Bernie Sanders Superdelegate] Wisniewski, the candidates running under Sanders are doing so by and large as a way to support the Senator and not in an effort to actually be elected.”

“I can’t speak for every individual who has filed to run but I think that in almost every circumstance they understand that the purpose of their candidacy is not to get elected freeholder or surrogate or whatever. Their purpose is to provide Bernie with a favorable ballot position,” Wisniewski said. “I would venture that it is highly likely that almost all of them will spend no money, have no literature and have no campaign.

Our own Bernie Sanders leader in New Jersey was strongly suggesting that I should not try to win. Assemblyman Wisniewski is clearly in a difficult position, endorsing both Bernie Sanders and establishment candidate Donald Norcross. I asked him about this during the Democratic National Convention. I don’t remember his exact response, but I left feeling listened to and less intimidated.

That Friday: Bernie’s spot on the ballot is decided by a bingo shaker.

I return to the Board of Elections, and am guided to a small room only a few feet away from the County Clerk’s office. There are two rows of eight chairs, filled with people. I am by far the youngest.

At the front is a folding table, on top of which is a bingo-like shaker. It is a wood cylinder on its side, elegantly made, which can be freely turned once the lock-peg is removed.

According to the Clerk’s office employee, the box was “just there when I started”, and that it was originally used as a jury selection box. This block, with numbers each having a hole below it, sits underneath the cylinder when in storage.


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At the beginning of the ceremony, Clerk Timothy Tyler comes in, rolls up his sleeves (in a ‘nothing up my sleeve’ gesture, according to the clerk’s office employee) and presents three, roughly, 1/2″x3″ slips of paper, saying “Hillary Clinton”, “Delran Democratic Reform Team” (a column in which the only candidate is a freeholder), and “Bernie Sanders”. He rolls each tightly and places them into a clear and soft plastic pharmaceutical capsule, about one inch in length. (The clerk’s office employee tells me that under some circumstances they use veterinary capsules which are much larger.)

The capsules are placed in the cylinder, the latch closed, and it is turned for a few moments. One capsule is taken out at a time. Hillary Clinton is take out first, so she gets the first (leftmost) column on the ballot, Delran is given the second, and Bernie Sanders the third.


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Before hand, we are told by the campaign:

Be on time. If you are a minute late, I guarantee they’ll draw immediately.

We are also given a list of questions and issues that need to be answered at each district’s ballot-slot drawing (my answers are in italic):

What office was drawn first for ballot position (i.e. freeholder or president)?
What position were our freeholder given (i.e. Column A, Line 1)?
If freeholders were drawn first, were our freeholders in the same drawing as the party organization’s freeholders (was a capsule with the names of our freeholders placed in the same box as a capsule with the names of freeholders aligned with the party/Hillary Clinton)?

The only thing being decided in this meeting is the order of the columns. Within each column, it has already been decided and printed out: the president is on top, followed in order by all delegates, the alternate delegate, surrogate, and then freeholder.

New Jersey statute 19:14-10 dictates where each position is listed within a ballot column.

What position was Bernie Sanders given (i.e. Column A, Line 1)?
If president was drawn first, was Bernie Sanders in the same drawing as Hillary (was a capsule with the name Bernie Sanders placed in the same box as a capsule with the name Hillary Clinton)?

They were in the same drawing.

Were our freeholders placed on the same line, column, or row as Bernie Sanders (did the county clerk ignore bracketing)?

They were placed in the same line. The county did not ignore bracketing.

If Bernie Sanders and/or our freeholders were placed in any position other than one of the first two columns or first two rows, please notify us immediately.

I did, and was told the campaign would file an appeal on Monday morning. But on primary day, on June 7, Bernie Sanders was still in the third column.